UnternehmerTUM Business Creators have been strategically working together with the medium-sized company SIEGENIA since June 2020 to jointly develop new ideas, test and bring innovative products and business models to life, and to enable their team to use innovative and agile methods in everyday life. SIEGENIA develops and distributes a wide range of smart products for more room comfort, e.g. for controlling roller shutters, thermostats, awnings or even lighting.
We spoke with Wieland Frank, managing partner, and Markus Bade, business unit manager, about the importance of innovation and digitalization for SIEGENIA's core business.
How important are innovation and digitalization for you?
Innovation has been the core of our company for more than 100 years. In the past, it was only about getting windows and doors to work and providing rooms with good air, but today we are in the process of designing room comfort in general. This offers many opportunities for innovation. But it is also clear that not every idea becomes a profitable innovation. In this respect, we are pursuing the Lean Innovator approach, i.e. a clear focus of resources on the creation of customer benefits along the entire value chain.
We see digitalization as a real driver for innovation. Whether in the design and management of our processes, in optimizing customer journeys or in developing new business models - digitalization offers us real opportunities.
SIEGENIA is focused on profitable innovations, which we have positioned in our corporate vision under the Lean Innovator approach. The innovations are consistently identified as use cases under the aspect of room comfort and its dimensions.
In the approach of room comfort, digitalization plays an essential role when it comes to visualizing the current situation of rooms for our customers, to influence it or to carry out actions in a comfortable way. Specifically, we can, for example, measure the quality of indoor air, control ventilation systems if required, regulate electrically operated windows and sliding elements, detect and report opening states and attempted manipulation of doors and windows, and guarantee access to certain areas. In the near future, we see the possibility to offer customized products and services by generating user information.
In addition, digitalization also supports us in controlling processes and systematically recording and utilizing know-how. It is therefore firmly anchored in our corporate objectives.
How has the relationship to this changed, especially at the beginning of the corona pandemic?
The COVID-19 virus and the measures to contain the pandemic have sharpened the view on both aspects - innovation and digitalization. Digitalization in particular has gained more attention, because without it mobile working and home office would be inconceivable. What had previously been associated with heated discussions and was only slowly being implemented became the standard for the new way of working just within a few weeks. And innovative business models can apparently be adapted and scaled more quickly.
Together with UnternehmerTUM, we launched a project right during the pandemic to introduce our approach to room comfort to our interested end customers. We deliberately started the necessary market research during this time to determine the newly gained experience of the target group and their needs for information via digital channels. In doing so, we were able to develop very contemporary and innovative approaches.
Where do you see opportunities and challenges for the coming years?
With regard to digitalization, opportunities and challenges are two sides of the same coin. The pandemic is acting as a catalyst and accelerator for changes and innovations in virtually all areas of life, and yet in many cases with a positive impact. Openness and willingness to get involved is probably the greatest individual and collective challenge.
Due to the current situation, the possibilities offered by digitalization have very quickly become a daily exercise in many areas. In mobile working, for example: Many of those affected have become aware of the shortcomings in their private living environment. Here we see a trend towards optimization through renovation, but also the desire for different or better living situations with corresponding requirements for room comfort and the technical conditions to adapt them to one's own needs. One key to the increasing acceptance of smart and thus networkable products will be barrier-free commissioning and use. The customer experience must be given greater focus in the identification of innovations and digital offerings.
How do you imagine the digital future of SIEGENIA?
Digitalization will play a very large but not the only decisive role. It is the toolbox that will be used to optimize existing value-adding processes and develop new business models. I see the greatest opportunity to use digitalization to get much closer to the users of our products - the end customer target group.
From the digital future and its consistent implementation in processes, we hope to gain insights for increasing sales, ideas for new business models, business relations, innovative products and services as well as approaches for process optimization and cost reduction.
What is your advice to medium-sized companies that want to drive forward their potential of innovation and digitalization?
I am convinced that there is no patent recipe for successful innovation and that every company has to find its own way. We focus on room comfort and try to create an intuitive and sustainable user experience for all participants in the value chain up to the end customer.
Customers and their needs should be the focus of attention. Digital offers must create a positive customer experience - because this ensures faster marketing, also through recommendations.
Thank you very much for the interview!
Photo: Left: Markus Bade; right: Wieland Frank
Markus Bade (*1966), father of a child, trained toolmaker with subsequent further training as a state-certified mechanical engineer. He then studied business administration in Duisburg/Essen, graduating as a business graduate. He has been working for over 30 years in the building hardware and ventilation industry for market-leading companies. Since March 2017, he has been a member of the SIEGENIA Group's management board, responsible for strategic business segment development and product management.
Wieland Frank (*1959), married and father of two children, studied Industrial Engineering and Management with the subject Mechanical Engineering at the TU Darmstadt after high school graduation and military service as a mountain trooper. During his studies he completed an internship abroad as a trainee with an international press manufacturer in the USA. The death of his father made it necessary for him to start his own family business directly from his studies. Since 1988 he has been managing the SIEGENIA GROUP as a personally liable partner - now in the fourth generation.